That amazing two dimensional material, graphene, has a myriad of use in its 2D form, but researchers want to take it to the third dimension to unlock even more of its potential. The trouble is that making 3D structures out of graphene can result in a brittle and poor performing monolith. Researchers at Monash University though have found a way to make a superior structure by mimicking cork.
Cork is a very useful material and humans have been taking advantage of its strength and elasticity for thousands of years. Now the honeycomb cell structure and tightly packed fibers that give cork its physical properties are being reproduced with graphene to replicate similar properties. Using freeze casting the researchers were able to form graphene into the appropriate structure and thus made a material lighter than air that can still support 50,000 times its own weight. Importantly though, this structure does not compromise the conductivity of the graphene.
Potentially this form of graphene could find use in the aerospace industry and tissue engineering. It likely will be used elsewhere too as more researchers make it and imagining what they can do with it.